Port Eliot Festival is a food-lovers haven, as you’ll know if you’ve ever whiled away a summer weekend at the festival. Not least on the Flower and Fodder stage, where the country’s greatest horticulturists and culinary geniuses give talks and demos to a packed-out tent of food lovers. Guaranteed to set pulses racing and mouths watering, here’s a run-down of what will be inspiring you and filling your bellies at the festival. Our motto is simple: “Come hungry, leave sated… Are you ready to tuck in?”
This year our Flower and Fodder line-up features Aaron Bertelsen, vegetable gardener and cook at the glorious Great Dixter in Sussex, who will take his audience on a recipe-led tour of the kitchen gardens he manages; oyster evangelist Katy Davidson – The Oyster Lady – of Newquay will seek to turn oyster doubters to oyster lovers, bringing a masterclass in shucking, tasting and preparing the best sauces; Belgian anglophile food writer and Miss Foodwise blogger, Regula Ysewijn will show how to make historical tarts that appear to have been hand-plucked from a Renaissance painting.
Alex Hely-Hutchinson, founder of Neal’s Yard 26 Grains, will lead a workshop designed to result in the finest cardamom buns in Port Eliot’s Georgian Big Kitchen; writer and chef Claire Thomson will concentrate on family cooking, creating surprisingly easy family teas, alternative children’s favourites and lunchbox treats, including yoghurt and cardamom chicken wraps with lettuce, radish and mint, flamiche and banana and ginger bread. Creator of The Collector Vermouth, Jack Adair Bevan, will teach the audience how to make a fine vermouth.
Food writer, broadcaster and award-winning founder of Polpo, Russell Norman, will host Kitchen Tales, in which chefs including Thomasina Miers and Gizzi Erskine take us WAY behind-the-scenes to reveal the good, the bad and the ugly of running a professional kitchen. Packed with anecdotes and indiscretions, this event includes the added bonus of Russell mixing cocktails for the audience as he gives his guests a light grilling.
Co-founder of the Mexican market food restaurant group, Wahaca, Thomasina Miers, said, “I’m ludicrously excited to be coming back to Port Eliot this year. The most beautiful setting for a festival, incredibly fun for the children, delicious food, great music, all my favourite people, brill brill! I shall be cooking recipes from my new book, Home Cook, showing how easy it is to build some scratch cooking into your life…”
Aside from everything happening on the Flower and Fodder stage and in the Big Kitchen, the festival offers treats all over, including the best street food and local producers. To pick just a few: making their debut this year is Open Sesame, offering innovative Persian food prepared with ingredients from along the south coast of England; Thyme & Tide prepares kedgeree, seafood paella, lobster salad, mackerel burgers and all sorts of dishes that put Cornish seafood from St. Agnes front-and-centre; Muffin Man serves homemade English muffins filled with sausage, pork belly and bacon jam, smoked eel and scrambled duck eggs with sweet potato and kale hash made by a Michelin-trained chef; and Cheeky Burger, are winners of the best burger in the UK in the 2016 British Street Food Awards.
Returning this year are firm favourites, The Cheese Truck, making the very best cheese toasties and Thoroughly Wild Meat Company, the West Country’s best artisan butcher, creating salads, wraps and spicy meat dishes, alongside mouth-watering vegetarian meals.
Elsewhere, amid the programme of workshops and practical skills demonstrations, expedition chef and international mountain leader Kieran Creevy will set up his own mountain basecamp at the festival and invite you to learn how to cook incredible expedition food on both gas and wood fire; and the Cider Box will take you on a magical culinary journey, delving deep into the world of the two finest fermented things in the world: cider and cheese.
Our annual Flower and Fodder Show competition, masterminded by acclaimed production designer Michael Howells and award-winning food writer Rose Prince, invites all festival goers to whip up a chutney, pasty or cake among many to show off their culinary chops or to create an array of flower arrangements. Once again, Fortnum & Mason is sponsoring the Show’s Preserve Cup, with the winning preserve going on to be produced and sold in Fortnum’s iconic Piccadilly store.